Verizon FiOS

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Verizon FiOS logo

Verizon FiOS is a bundled Internet access, telephone, and television service that operates over a fiber-optic communications network. It is offered in some areas of the United States by Verizon Communications and Frontier Communications. Verizon was one of the first major U.S. carriers to offer fiber to the home, and received positive ratings from Consumer Reports among cable television and Internet service providers.[1][2] Other service providers often use fiber optics in the network backbone and existing copper or coax infrastructure for residential users. Service began in 2005, and networked areas expanded through 2010, although some areas do not have service or cannot receive TV and phone service because of franchise agreements.

FiOS ONT with (left to right) optical fiber, power, Ethernet, telephone, and television cables


Launch and expansion (2005-2010)[edit]

In September 2004, Verizon Communications, announced the launch of their FiOS television service, which first became available for 9,000 customers in Keller, Texas.[3] Verizon aimed to replace copper wires with optical fibers, which would allow greater speed and quality of communication.

In 2006, Verizon and Motorola partnered to bring its customers home DVR access, which allowed viewers to record and watch television programs simultaneously.[4] In 2006, The Wall Street Journal speculated:[5]

Verizon Communications Inc. is fielding offers for [sale] ... of traditional telephone lines ... part of the New York-based phone giant's strategy to delve deeper into the wireless and broadband arenas, while getting out of the traditional phone business in U.S. areas that aren't slated for fiber upgrades ... Verizon also has been shopping a package dubbed "GTE North" that comprises about 3.4 million access lines in former GTE Corp. territories in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.

In July 2007 Verizon released FiOS 2.0, which enabled customers to use widgets,[clarification needed] allowing for more interactivity of the service.[6] Verizon announced in January 2008 that one million people subscribed to the service. That same year, Verizon FiOS expanded its HD channel selection to over 150 HD channels.[7] Price increases were announced in April 2008, when FiOS was available to (not necessarily subscribed by) 6.5 million households.[8]

Availability in 2008

In January 2009, FiOS was available to 12.7 million homes, with about 2.5 million subscribing to the Internet service.[9] As of June 2009, FiOS Internet had 3.1 million customers.[10] Estimates on December 31, 2009, were 3.4 million Internet customers and 2.86 million for FiOS TV, with availability down to 12.2 million premises.[11]

Stable footprint (2010-present)[edit]

Following relatively poor financial results for the wider company in early 2010,[12] Verizon announced in March 2010 that they were winding down their FiOS expansion, concentrating on completing their network in areas that already had FiOS franchises but were not deploying to new areas, which included the cities of Baltimore and Boston, who had not yet secured municipal franchise agreements.[13] Doug Michelson, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, concluded that "Verizon has been overspending to acquire FiOS customers".[12] Some viewed the halt in expansion as a violation of Verizon's agreements with some municipalities and states, since Verizon has collected revenue to deploy infrastructure upgrades that never occurred.[14]

In April 2010, Verizon announced that three million people were subscribed to Verizon FiOS.[6] In July 2010, estimates were 3.8 million FiOS Internet subscribers and 3.2 million TV subscribers, with availability to 15 million homes.[15] In May 2013, Verizon announced they had passed 18 million homes with FiOS and 5 million customers.[16]

In April 2015, Verizon announced "Custom TV", a new bundling scheme that offers a base FiOS TV service of 35 channels, and the ability to subscribe to different theme packs to add channels to the service.[17]

Technical details[edit]

FiOS ONT installed in Montclair, New Jersey, with Ethernet (left) and telephone (right) connections

As described in 2007, Verizon FiOS services are delivered over a fiber-to-the-premises network using passive optical network technology. Voice, video, and data travel over three wavelengths in the infrared spectrum. To serve a home, a single-mode optical fiber extends from an optical line terminal at a FiOS central office out to the neighborhoods where a passive optical splitter fans out the same signal on up to 32 fibers, thus serving up to 32 subscribers. At the subscriber's home, an optical network terminal (ONT) transfers data onto the corresponding in-home copper wiring for phone, video and Internet access.[18] Some FiOS installations mount the ONT inside the house and use Category 5 cable for data and coaxial cable for video, while others mount the ONT outside the house and use the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) protocol for both data and video over a single coaxial cable. Voice service is also connected to the ONT and carried over telephone cables already in the house.

One of the three wavelength bands is devoted to carrying television channels using standard QAM cable television technology. The other two wavelengths are devoted to all other data, one for outbound and the other for inbound data. This includes video on demand, telephone and Internet data.

This allocation of wavelengths adheres to the ITU-T G.983 standard, also known as an ATM passive optical network (APON). Verizon initially installed slower BPONs but now only installs GPONs specified in the ITU-T G.984 standard. These bands and speeds are:

  • 1310 nm wavelength for upstream data at 155 Mbit/s (1.2 Gbit/s with GPON)
  • 1490 nm wavelength for downstream data at 622 Mbit/s (2.4 Gbit/s with GPON)
  • 1550 nm wavelength for QAM cable television with 870 MHz of bandwidth

The set top box (STB) receives IR code and channel subscription information through the out-of-band (OOB) channel just as other coax or RF-based STB's do. However, guide data, cover art, widgets and other data are sent via IP over the data channels. All upstream OOB requests (or responses) are sent via IP over the data channels. All non-OOB data transactions to or from STB's are carried over the MoCA channels. The MoCA channel is also used to carry out inter-STB transactions (multi-room DVR, synchronization, etc.).

FiOS is also compatible with CableCard technology allowing FiOS TV subscribers to receive encrypted and premium cable channels on CableCard capable devices.[19]


Legacy Video Service[edit]

Verizon's broadcast video service is not IPTV (Internet Protocol television), unlike AT&T's U-verse product and CenturyLink's Prism product. However, video on demand content and interactive features, such as widgets and programming guide data, are delivered using IPTV-based technology. The majority of content is provided over a standard broadcast video signal that carries digital QAM content up to 870 MHz. This broadcast content originates from a Super Head-End, which sends the signal to a Video Hub Office for distribution to FiOS TV customers.[20]

From the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) at the subscriber premise, the RF video is delivered with a coaxial connection to typically a FiOS set-top box that handles both RF and IPTV video. Interactive services such as VOD and widgets are delivered by IP and are only accessible through use of a FiOS set-top box and a Verizon-supplied router. The router supports multimedia (MOCA) and provides the set-top boxes with programming guides and all SD channels, but high definition content (beyond local HD channels which are in clear QAM) requires HD equipment like a FiOS HD set-top box/DVR or a CableCARD-supporting device, such as TiVo. In 2008, Verizon ceased carrying analog television signals in parallel with digital channels, meaning televisions without a QAM tuner or a set-top digital adapter received no signal.[21]

Quantum Video Service[edit]

In early January 2013, Motorola and Verizon teamed up to develop a new Media Server platform named the Motorola Medios+, to help expand the functionality of the conventional set-top box offered by Verizon FiOS. This device is set up to connect to a single TV in one's household for the purpose of recording TV shows or movies. The new FiOS Media Server has the capacity to link to up to four other set-top boxes for the purpose of streaming recorded media to the other boxes. This feature introduces the potential to record a show and watch it on any other TV in one's home. The new FiOS Media server can also record up to six TV shows at the same time. This device also has one terabyte of internal storage which equates to 100 hours of HD content. This device also has the ability to use widgets, including a YouTube widget to help bring internet content to a viewer's TV.[22]

Other video services[edit]

FiOS TV service tiers include: Select HD, Preferred HD, Extreme HD, Ultimate HD, with La Conexión (a Spanish language-oriented plan) and broadcast and local access channels only.

Additional subscription packages are available, including sports packages, pay-per-view channels, and video on demand content.[23]

In the summer of 2013, Verizon began 'gating' On Demand content, blocking what was previously 'free' On Demand content to anyone not subscribed to the regular programming. As a result, anyone not signed up for the Extreme HD or Ultimate HD packages lost Free Movies content that was previously accessible.[citation needed]

On September 20, 2013 Verizon FiOS TV subscribers gained the ability to watch several channels over the internet on their mobile devices. Previously FiOS only offered an iPad app that streamed 75 channels of television, but only on a user's home wireless network. As of September the new iOS app supports streaming of BBC America, BBC World News, EPIX, NFL Network, HGTV, DIY, the Tennis Channel, Food Network, and Travel Channel over any internet connection.[24]

Internet access[edit]

FiOS offers several service tiers that are available individually, but are offered at discounts when combined in a bundle. Although all tiers are available nationwide, price varies between markets and some legacy tiers are available only in selected markets. The tiers are distinguished by data transmission speed measured in Mbit/s downstream and upstream.

On June 18, 2012, Verizon announced FiOS Quantum. The new release doubled every Internet tier of Verizon FiOS subscriber packages. This release also introduced the 300 Mbit/s download speeds to the available service packages.[25]

In July 2013 Verizon FiOS announced its highest speed tier at 500/100 Mbit/s for home and small businesses. Starting with limited coverage, they hoped to reach all FiOS markets by 2014.[26]

In July 2014 Verizon FiOS announced it would increase customer upload speeds to match download speeds for new and existing customers; however, existing customers need to sign up for a promotional program called "My Rewards+" if they wanted to receive it early. As of January 2015, all FiOS customers have received the speed match.[27]

Category Download Speed Upload Speed[27]
Standard 25 Mbit/s 25 Mbit/s
Quantum 50 Mbit/s 50 Mbit/s
Quantum 75 Mbit/s 75 Mbit/s
Quantum 150 Mbit/s 150 Mbit/s
Quantum 300 Mbit/s 300 Mbit/s
Quantum 500 Mbit/s 500 Mbit/s


Traditional telephone[edit]

Verizon offers plain old telephone service (POTS). There have been reports in various markets that Verizon physically disconnected the copper lines (or the network interface device, necessary for copper-line phone service) at the time that FiOS was installed, and that Verizon customer service talked customers into upgrading from copper with false promises of no changes in service rates.[28]

Verizon sold landline operations in the markets of northern New England to FairPoint Communications in March 2008.[29] Fiber to the premises projects in those markets was renamed as FAST (Fiber Access Speed Technology).[30] In June 2010, Verizon sold landline operations scattered throughout 13 states to Frontier Communications.[31] Some of these areas already had FiOS service availability, for which Frontier became responsible.

VoIP service[edit]

FiOS Digital Voice, is a voice over IP service where the ONT serves as the VoIP gateway, generating the dial tone to enable traditional analog phone use.[32] The service began in September 2008.[33] FiOS Digital Voice replaced an earlier service called VoiceWing which was launched in 2004 and discontinued in early 2009, shortly after the launch of FiOS Digital Voice. Verizon announced expanded availability for 2009.[34] The expansion took longer than planned, as Verizon continued to lose traditional wireline customers. It is available to all customers. It offers an unlimited calling plan only.[34][35]

SIP service[edit]

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) started rolling out in much of the Verizon FiOS network in the late 2000s. A majority of new FiOS business customers receive SIP services if they're running out of the newer GPON equipment.

Power outages may affect service availability. Since fiber-optic service does not carry power from the exchange as copper service does, the customer's power is used instead. This means that if there is no electricity at the premises, telephone service will be interrupted. This may be an issue for sites that experience extended power outages that depend on analog phone lines for remote monitoring, alarm systems, and/or emergency calls. Verizon provides a rechargeable battery backup unit free with installation of the service, which powers the ONT for up to 8 hours continuously, longer with normal usage, to provide telephone service in the event of a power outage.[36]


When Verizon FiOS was first launched in 2005, Verizon’s shares decreased by 4.6% while AT&T rose by 38.7%. Critics argue that Verizon's low prices could put their fiber-optic network in jeopardy, since the cost of building a fiber-optic network could surpass the return from FiOS sales.[37] While there has been criticism of Verizon FiOS since its launch, there have been many positive reviews of the services. A 2007 report noted the high quality of the service and that subscribers enjoy the fast Internet speeds and high quality HD channels.[38]

Carriage disputes[edit]

The Weather Channel carriage dispute[edit]

On March 10, 2015 at midnight EDT, The Weather Channel and its sister network, Weatherscan, were pulled from Verizon FiOS after the two parties were unable to come to terms on a new carriage agreement. The services have respectively been replaced by the AccuWeather Network (which launched on March 13) and a widget provided by FiOS featuring forecast content provided by WeatherBug. No public announcement was made regarding the removal until over 12 hours after TWC and Weatherscan were pulled.[39][40][41] The Weather Channel offered a less expensive deal to Verizon FiOS, which rejected the offer. Verizon cited the wide availability of the internet and mobile apps for consumers to access weather content any time of day as the reason for dropping TWC and its services.[42][43]

A representative for the network said in a statement, "We were disappointed when, without warning late yesterday, March 9, Verizon FiOS dropped The Weather Channel from their lineup while our companies continued to be in active conversations regarding a contract renewal. FiOS customers have enjoyed a bundle of services from The Weather Channel including the network, Weatherscan, On-Demand, a Weather Widget and streaming on mobile devices. During a winter with record-breaking storms and severe weather, The Weather Channel responded with non-stop live coverage, including the ongoing presence of our crews reporting live from hard-hit communities within the Verizon FiOS footprint. This coverage resulted in The Weather Channel being the only major cable network to grow in February."

The Weather Channel had earlier signed renewal agreements with major providers that are members of the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), including Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications. However, representatives for the channel were shocked that "Verizon FiOS would deny their subscribers access to the best live weather coverage and expertise that only The Weather Channel can provide." While Verizon claimed it was a long-term business decision (instead of a carriage dispute) that it made, The Weather Channel launched a campaign to urge viewers to contact FiOS about restoring the cable channel and its services.[44]

ESPN lawsuit[edit]

In April 2015, ESPN Inc. sued Verizon for breaching its carriage contract by offering ESPN and ESPN2 as part of a separate sports package under its new "Custom TV" service. ESPN's contract requires the two networks to be carried as part of the basic service.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fiber-Optic Providers Are Leading Choices for Internet, TV, and Telephone Service". Consumer Reports. January 5, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Consumer Reports Survey: Bundling TV, Internet, and Phone Services Point to Big Savings". March 28, 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Belson, Ken (September 25, 2005). "Verizon Introduces Fiber Optic TV Service". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ Corner, Stuart (15 Aug. 2006). "Verizon Launches the Three-channel DVR". ITWire. N.p.
  5. ^ Searcey, Dionne; Dennis Berman (May 10, 2006). "Verizon Fields Offers for Phone Lines; Value of Two Packages May Total Up to $8 Billion; Bigger Focus on Web Services". The Wall Street Journal. p. B4. ISSN 0099-9660. 
  6. ^ a b "Timeline: The Evolution of FiOS TV". Blog. ARRIS Everywhere. August 19, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Verizon Tops 1 Million FiOS TV Customers". WebWire. N.p., 29 Jan. 2008. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
  8. ^ Spangler, Todd (April 30, 2008). "Verizon Plans Q2 Rate Hike For FiOS". Multichannel News. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ Porges, Seth (February 12, 2009). "Fiber Optics Bring Faster Internet, DVDs on Demand". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  10. ^ Ng, Jansen (August 20, 2009). "Rogers Cable Launches 50 Megabit DOCSIS 3.0 Service". DailyTech. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Verizon FiOS". 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Joseph N. DiStefano (26 Jan 2010). "Verizon, FiOS losing Comcast war; will cut over 10,000 jobs: reports". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 30 Mar 2014. 
  13. ^ Svensson, Peter (March 26, 2010). "Verizon winds down expensive FiOS expansion". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  14. ^ Kushnick, Bruce (May 19, 2012). "The Great Verizon FiOS Ripoff". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  15. ^ Godinez, Victor (October 8, 2010). "If Verizon's FiOS service isn't here, it's not coming". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  16. ^ Buckley, Sean (30 May 2013). "Verizon's Shammo doubts Google Fiber will build in FiOS areas". Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "Verizon giving FiOS customers more flexibility over which channels they pay for". The Verge. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Rowe, Martin (April 30, 2007). "Verizon's last mile". Test & Measurement World. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  19. ^ "CableCard features and services | FiOS TV | Residential Support | Verizon". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  20. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (December 17, 2009). "An inside look at a Verizon FiOS Super Headend and Video Hub". Engadget. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Your FiOS TV service is becoming 100% Digital". web site. Verizon Communications. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Verizon And Motorola Announce FiOS TV Media Server That Can Record Six Shows At Once". web site. TechCrunch. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Verizon FiOS TV Packages and Plans". Commercial web site. Verizon Communications. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Verizon FiOS Expands Mobile TV Support To Android & iPhone, Now Lets You Watch Live TV Outside The Home". web site. TechCrunch. Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  25. ^ Drawbaugh, Ben (June 18, 2012). "Verizon intros Quantum, officially priced up to 300 Mbps". Engadget. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  26. ^ Grey, Melissa (July 22, 2013). "Verizon FiOS rolls out 500/100 Mbps broadband, its highest speed tier yet". EnGadget. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  27. ^ a b Brodkin, Jon (July 21, 2014). "Verizon FiOS finally symmetrical, upload speeds boosted to match download". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ Yao, Deborah (July 11, 2007). "Verizon's copper cutoff traps customers, hampers rivals". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  29. ^ "FairPoint Communications Reports second Quarter 2008 results" (PDF). news release. August 7, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  30. ^ "FairPoint FAST FAQ". Official web site. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  31. ^ Whitney, Lance (May 13, 2009). "Verizon selling landline operations in 13 states". CNET Networks. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  32. ^ "FiOS Digital Voice: Here's How It Works". June 3, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  33. ^ Bode, Karl (December 12, 2008). "Here Comes FiOS Digital Voice". Broadband Reports. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  34. ^ a b Spangler, Todd (December 12, 2008). "FiOS to Raise Its Voice: Verizon Plans to Widely Roll Out Internet-Based Phone Service in Early 2009". Multichannel News. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Verizon FiOS Digital Voice". Commercial web site. Verizon. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  36. ^ Musgrove, Mike (May 8, 2005). "FiOS Speeds Up Web, Phone and TV Access". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  37. ^ Hansell, Saul (18 August 2008). "Verizon’s FiOS: A Smart Bet or a Big Mistake?". The New York Times.
  38. ^ "Review: Verizon's FiOS Phone-Cable TV-Internet Service". FOX News. N.p., 12 Sept. 2013. Web.
  39. ^ Yvonne Villarreal (March 11, 2015). "Verizon FiOS drops the Weather Channel". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  40. ^ Brian Stelter (March 10, 2015). "Verizon FiOS drops the Weather Channel". CNN Money. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  41. ^ Beatrice Verhoeven (March 13, 2015). "AccuWeather Launches Its First National Weather Channel". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  42. ^ Roger Yu (March 10, 2015). "Verizon FiOS drops Weather Channel over contract". USA Today (Gannett Company). Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  43. ^ "Verizon drops The Weather Channel, claiming internet killed the weatherman". Quartz. March 10, 2015. 
  44. ^ "Verizon FiOS drops The Weather Channel - Our Statement". The Weather Channel. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  45. ^ "ESPN sues Verizon over its plan to create slim bundles of cable channels". The Verge. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Marsan, C. D. (2008). Verizon FiOS tech heading to enterprises; Claims new high-speed optical networks slash floor space, electricity needs. Network World, (1). Retrieved March 8, 2009.
  • Searcey, D. (2006). Telecommunications; Beyond Cable; Beyond DSL: Fiber-optic lines offer connection speeds up to 50 times faster than traditional services; Here's what early users have to say. The Wall Street Journal, (R9). Retrieved March 7, 2009.

External links[edit]